Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Classic Baked Beans

I'm almost certain that this baked bean recipe, handwritten on a scrap of paper by me, is the one I got from the grocery store deli I worked at eons ago. The baked beans they/we/I sold in the deli. The baked beans I ate frequently. The baked beans I used to love. I hope.

I'm making a double batch of them today, and I will report back as soon as I taste a spoonful. Or bowlful, whatever the case may be. These beans have returned rave reviews all around; I believe they are the beans from my past...

*I have a little note on the recipe about quantities for a double batch; see below.

Also, I've had success freezing other pinto bean recipes, so I'm sure you could freeze these as well. I'm going to refrigerate mine for a couple days, and reheat in the oven to serve at H-Bomb's birthday party. (he said he doesn't think he will want beans, "but other people at my party might want to eat beans." Isn't he thoughtful?)

Classic Baked Beans
8 servings

2 cups beans (I'm using pinto beans today)
1/4 pound salt pork, sliced
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon dry mustard
3 tablespoons molasses

Wash and sort beans; place in large pot, add 1 1/2 quarts cold water and bring to a boil. Simmer 2 minutes. Remove from heat; cover and let stand 1 hour. Add salt pork, return to heat and simmer, covered, until beans are tender, about 1 hour. Drain, reserving 2 cups liquid.

To liquid, add brown sugar, salt, dry mustard and molasses, mix well.

Alternate beans and pork in a large casserole dish, add sugar mixture. Cover and bake at 300 degrees F for 5 or 6 hours. If necessary, add more water during cooking.

*Double batch:
4 cups beans
Reserve 6 cups liquid
3/4 cup brown sugar
3 teaspoons salt
3 teaspoons dry mustard
1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon molasses

This left me with a bit extra liquid, but I figure I can save it in the fridge, and add it if needed prior to reheating on Saturday!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Grilling with Indirect Heat

We discovered grilling with indirect heat several years ago, and it is a key method for several of our favorite recipes: our famous Lamb Tacos (Barbacoa de Borrego) and Grill-Roasted Chicken. Indirect heat cooks foods by reflected heat, much like roasting in an oven. Heat circulating inside the grill cooks the food more slowly and evenly than direct grilling, although you may turn the food partway through the cooking time to ensure uniform cooking and to distribute appetizing grill marks.

~We don't have a charcoal grill, so I can only pass on information about how to do it (below). I won't pretend to know enough about charcoal to answer any questions~

We have a gas grill, and indirect grilling is the easiest way to grill, especially if you are working with large roasts, whole chickens or legs of lamb, etc. Other than checking the temperature every half hour or so, once you put the meat on you're free to do other things.

For this cooking method, you will need a gas grill with at least two separate burners, a disposable aluminum foil pan for use as a drip pan, tongs, and an oven thermometer.

For indirect grilling with a gas grill: First, heat the grill using all the burners with the lid closed. This will effectively turn your grill into an oven. Turn off the burner directly beneath where the food will cook and put a drip pan on the fire grate. Place the food on the grill rack directly over the drip pan, and adjust the burners on either side of the food to equal amounts of heat.

Our grill has two separate burners, so we first turn on both burners to heat the grill. I turn the right burner off, place the drip pan over the right burner and the food over the drip pan. The left burner remains on, and the lid MUST remain closed. I use an oven thermometer, set on the rack next to the meat, to monitor the inside grill temperature, and adjust the flame on the left burner only as needed to maintain the appropriate temperature.

For indirect grilling with charcoal, this information comes directly from the Williams-Sonoma Complete Grilling Cookbook. To set up an indirect-heat fire in a charcoal grill, light your charcoal and place a drip pan on the fire grate and use long-handled tongs to position hot coals around the edge of the pan. Then put the food directly on the grill rack over the drip pan and cover the grill. For foods that require 40 minutes or more of cooking time, light a second batch of coals in another grill or other fireproof container and use them to replenish the fire as the first batch of coals dies out.

Grill-Roasted Chicken with Potato Fans

This is an excellent recipe for roasted chicken, very simple and delicious, and the potato fans are one of my favorites. It's from the Williams-Sonoma Complete Grilling Cookbook. I can't get over how easy this chicken is. You should try it. I'm going to make it again soon!

Grill-Roasted Chicken with Potato Fans
Serves 4

Baking potatoes and a roasting chicken are good grill partners because both cook in the same amount of time.

For the chicken:
1 roasting chicken, 5-6 pounds
1 lemon, halved
salt (I use coarse kosher) and freshly ground pepper to taste
several fresh rosemary, thyme, sage, or parsley sprigs
1-2 tablespoons olive oil or vegetable oil (I use olive)

For the potatoes:
4 baking potatoes, about 1/2 pound each, peeled
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 teaspoon salt (kosher, again)
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Prepare a fire for indirect-heat cooking in a covered grill. Turn on both burners of your grill to heat.

To prepare the chicken, rinse and then pat dry with paper towels. Rub the chicken inside and out with a cut side of the lemon. Sprinkle inside and out with salt and pepper. Tuck the herb sprigs inside the cavity. Rub the skin with the oil. Truss the chicken: Cross the drumsticks and, using kitchen string, tie the legs together, then tie the legs and wings close to the body. Set the chicken aside.

To prepare the potatoes, slice each one crosswise at 1/4-inch intervals, cutting only three-fourths of the way through; the slices must remain attached. In a large bowl, gently turn the potatoes in the melted butter. (I spoon butter over the potatoes also, so some gets in between the slices) Sprinkle with the salt and pepper.

Place the chicken, breast side down, on one side of the grill rack. (the flame under the chicken and potatoes should be turned off, with only the other side of the grill turned on) Place the potatoes, cut side up, alongside the bird. Cover and open the vents halfway. (I don't have vents, don't worry about it if you don't either) After 30 minutes, using large tongs so you don't pierce the chicken!, turn the chicken breast side up and turn the potatoes cut side down. Cook the chicken until the juices run clear when the thigh joint is pierced, or until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh registers 180 degrees F, about 1 hour total. Add more hot coals to the fire as needed to maintain a constant temperature (I use our gas grill, between 250 to 300 degrees--use an oven thermometer set next to the chicken to monitor the temperature, see this post for more information) The potatoes will be tender in about the same amount of time.

Transfer the chicken to a warmed platter, cover loosely with aluminum foil, and let rest for 10 minutes; keep the potatoes warm on the grill. To serve, snip the strings and carve the chicken. Arrange the potatoes alongside.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Gingerbread Little Cakes

I have this cookbook that I have never used before, called Baking in America
by Greg Patent. It contains "traditional and contemporary favorites from the past 200 years." It sounded like a book I should own, I suppose, given that it has a bunch of old-fashioned recipes and their histories.

A couple months ago, when Ranch Hand was reminiscing about some little cookies his mother had made when he was a child, I was intrigued. Since he is pushing 60, I figured the recipe had to be in this book, and I asked him for a better description. He said they were almost like a cake, and they had weird chewy things in them that "weren't raisins." I showed him the recipe for Gingerbread Little Cakes, and although he had no idea at all how his mother had made them, he said the description sounded similar. I decided I would try them sometime and see if the "little cakes" were what he remembered.

I made a double batch of these little cakes, in the shape of cowboy hats, since we're having a ranch dinner tonight: Wifey's making tacos. And although little ginger cookie/cake things don't really "go" with Mexican food, I really wanted to try them out. Plus all of Ranch Hand and Wifey's kids are here, so it would be neat if they really are what Ranch Hand remembers his mom making. Don't you think?

So...Ranch Hand said the shape was "throwing him off;" his mom made them in a sheet pan and cut them into diamond shapes. I think this would also make the cookies less crunchy on the edges, which isn't good or bad, but if you have a specific memory of a nice soft, cakey cookie, the little cowboy hats have some crunchy edges. The cookies are so good, I will definitely make them again, perhaps not chopping the ginger so finely, and also baking them as bar cookies in a pan. Ranch Hand said they are "very close" to what he remembered. I think if they were bar cookies, they just might be "the ones." Yeehaw!

Gingerbread Little Cakes
Makes about 24 cookies.

In the old days, many types of cookies were called cakes, and gingerbread was made from a dough, cut into various shapes, and baked. What we call gingerbread--the moist and spicy cake--didn't become popular until the late 1800's, after the development of baking powder and baking soda. These cookies are soft and spicy, with an extra kick from crystallized ginger. They are easily made in a saucepan.

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup finely chopped crystallized ginger
1/2 cup firmly packed light or dark brown sugar
1/2 cup molasses
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into 8 tablespoon-sized pieces
1 large egg, lightly beaten

1. Combine 1 tablespoon of the flour with the crystallized ginger in a small bowl and toss to coat; set aside.

2. Combine the brown sugar, molasses, ground ginger, cinnamon and cardamom in a medium heavy saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon. Immediately add the baking soda and stir as the mixture becomes thick and foamy and rises to the top of the pan. Remove from the heat and stir in the butter until melted. Stir in the egg. Gradually stir in the remaining flour in 3 or 4 additions, adding the chopped ginger after the second addition. The dough will be stiff. (they're not kidding, it's difficult)

3. Scrap the dough onto sheet of waxed paper and knead it briefly to mix well. Cool to room temperature.

4. Adjust two oven racks to divide the oven into thirds and preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with cooking parchment or silicone liners.

5. Transfer the dough to an unfloured work surface and pat or roll it to a 3/8-inch thickness. Cut into shapes with cookie cutters and transfer to the baking sheets, spacing them about 2 inches apart. Gather the scraps, pat or roll them out again, and cut more cookies.

6. Bake for about 15 minutes, reversing the sheets from top to bottom and front to back once during baking, until the cookies look puffy and feel soft; do not overbake. Let cool on the pans for 5 minutes, then, with a wide metal spatula, carefully transfer them to racks to cool completely. Store airtight. These keep fresh for days.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Beef and Cheese Empanada Filling

This is the filling recipe that accompanies the Mini Empanada recipe. You really should try these, they are delicious. We had guacamole for dipping, they would be equally good with fresh salsa and/or sour cream also. If you're not in the mood for beef empanadas, try the Turkey Filling with Raisins & Olives *coming soon!

Beef and Cheese Empanada Filling
Enough for about 48 mini empanadas

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, minced
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 medium garlic cloves, minced or pressed through a garlic press (about 2 teaspoons)
1 teaspoon minced fresh oregano leaves, or 1/4 teaspoon dried
1 teaspoon ground cumin
Pinch ground cloves
Pinch cayenne pepper
1/2 pound (85 percent lean) ground chuck
3/4 cup low-sodium beef broth
1 teaspoon sugar
Salt and ground black pepper
2 ounces Monterey Jack cheese, shredded (about 1/2 cup)

1. Heat the oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until just shimmering. Add the onion and cook until softened, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste, garlic, oregano, cumin, cloves, and cayenne and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in the beef and cook, breaking up the clumps with a wooden spoon, until no longer pink, about 4 minutes.

2. Stir in the broth, reduce the heat to low, and simmer until the mixture is moist but not wet, about 8 minutes. Off the heat, stir in the sugar and season with salt and pepper to taste. Transfer mixture to a medium bowl, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until completely cool, about 1 hour. Stir in the cheese and continue to chill until needed, up to 3 days.

3. Follow directions for assembling, storing and serving Mini Empanadas.

Mini Empanadas

These delicious little bundles are from The Best Make-Ahead Recipe cookbook. I do love this cookbook, and I will be posting several more recipes from it soon. America's Test Kitchen (and the editors of Cook's Illustrated) runs through all these recipes multiple times, trying different methods and variations until they end up with what they feel is The Best Recipe. They detail their process for each recipe, which I find interesting and helpful. Most of the time I agree with them about the chosen process, if my opinion differs, rest assured I will tell you (as I did below!)

I made these empanadas for JennyLee's baby shower over a year ago, along with Summer Garden Pasta Salad. The empanadas were a hit, especially since there were extra empanadas in the freezer when JennyLee's husband came home! (I made a couple larger ones that I left in our freezer too, they were great, just took a bit longer to bake). I really can't believe it's been a whole year! I need to make some of these again soon.

The recipe is a bit labor-intensive because you make your own dough, but the beauty is that you can make these up to 1 month ahead, whenever you have time to spend in the kitchen. There are also steps that allow you to divide up the task if you only have an hour here or there. Then when you're ready to serve them, you just pull them out of the freezer and bake them.

There are a couple different filling recipes that I will post; I made the Beef and Cheese Empanada
, but you could also make the Turkey Empanada Filling with Raisins and Olives. (recipe coming soon!)

Mini Empanadas
"If your kitchen is very warm, refrigerate all of the dough ingredients for 30 minutes before making the dough. If the dough ever becomes too soft and/or sticky to work with, simply return it to the refrigerator until firm; a dough scraper also comes in handy here. There should be plenty of dough to cut out and make 48 empanadas without having to re-roll any dough scraps; we found the rerolled scraps of dough to be very tough."

I don't have the kind of space in my kitchen to roll out the dough that big, I just handled the scraps as little as I could, and those empanadas turned out fine too.--M.

3 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting the work surface
1 tablespoon sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes and frozen for 10 minutes (*note: they tried things other than butter but the resulting pastry was too "greasy.") 1 1/4 cups ice water
1 recipe Empanada Filling (Beef or Turkey), chilled
1 large egg, beaten

1. Process the flour, sugar and salt together in a food processor until combined, about 6 seconds. Scatter the butter pieces over the flour mixture and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs with butter bits no larger than small peas, about 16 pulses.

2. Transfer the flour mixture to a large mixing bowl. Working with 1/4 cup of water at a time, sprinkle the water over the flour mixture and stir it in using a rubber spatula, pressing the mixture against the side of the bowl to form a dough, until no small bits of flour remain (you may not need to use all of the water).

3. Turn the dough out onto a clean work surface and divide it into 2 equal pieces. Press each dough half into a cohesive ball, then flatten the ball into a 6-inch disk. Wrap each disk in plastic and refrigerate until firm but not hard, about 2 hours or up to 2 days.

4. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper; set aside. Remove 1 disk of dough from the refrigerator (if refrigerated longer than 2 hours, let sit at room temperature until malleable). Roll the dough out on a lightly floured work surface into an 18-inch circle about 1/8 inch thick. Using a 3-inch round biscuit cutter, cut out 24 rounds and transfer them to the prepared baking sheet. (I cut out as many rounds as I could, like I said above, and gently re-rolled the dough to roll out more. They suggest discarding the scraps, but I just couldn't do it, so I ended up with more than 48. I also made a couple larger ones as an experiment). Wrap the baking sheet with plastic wrap and refrigerate. Repeat with the second disk of dough and the second prepared baking sheet.

5. Working with the first batch of dough rounds, place about 1 teaspoon of the chilled filling in the center of each dough round and moisten the edge of the dough round with water, using either your finger or a pastry brush. Fold the dough in half over the filling, making a half-moon shape. Pinch the seam along the edge to secure. Using a dinner fork, crimp the sealed edge to secure. Arrange them on a fresh, parchment-lined baking sheet. Wrap the baking sheet tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate while making a second batch of empanadas using the remaining dough rounds and filling.

6. TO STORE: Make sure each baking sheet is covered tightly with plastic wrap (I use Glad Press and Seal) and refrigerate for up to 3 days, or freeze for up to 1 month. (After the empanadas are completely frozen, about 8 hours, they can be transferred to a zipper-lock bag to save space in the freezer. Transfer back to parchment-lined baking sheets before baking).

7. TO SERVE: Adjust 2 oven racks to the upper-middle and lower-middle positions and heat the oven to 425 degrees F. Unwrap the empanadas and brush with the egg. (the egg gives the baked pastry a great shine and golden brown color--an attractive invitation for your guests to dig in). Bake until golden brown, about 25 minutes, switching and rotating the trays halfway through the baking time. Let cool for 5 minutes before serving.

Bake the empanadas as directed in step 7, reducing the baking time to about 20 minutes.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Carrot Salad

This is an old recipe that came from my grandma, who died when I was eight. I don't remember eating it before, but it's quite possible I did. My husband came home with 5 pounds of carrots the other day ("you asked for a big bag"), so I decided to make it. I did double the amount of carrots and reduce the sugar. The carrots macerate in the liquid, so be sure to prepare this dish several hours ahead.

This carrot salad is delicious and refreshing, served cold. We had it as a side dish with lasagna, it goes well with savory dishes. Here are some of the comments from the ranch dinner tonight: "These carrots are so yummy and refreshing." "It does taste old-fashion-y." "So good."

See for yourself. Enjoy.

Carrot Salad

2 cups grated carrots (I used 4 cups, about 6 large carrots)
1 cup sugar (I used about 3/4 cup)
1/2 cup lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt

Mix ingredients well; cover and refrigerate. Let stand in refrigerator, stirring occasionally, several hours before serving. Add small marshmallows for variety. (I didn't add anything, but I think golden raisins would be a good addition).

Monday, July 21, 2008

Lemon Spaghetti

This is the first time I've tried this recipe. It's from Everyday Italian, by Giada De Laurentiis. I love her cookbook, and I love that this recipe is from a section of the book called "Fresh From the Pantry." It's perfect for those nights, like this one, when you have absolutely no dinner plans, don't really feel like cooking anything, but can't bring yourself to serve mac & cheese or hot dogs yet again.

I had a partial package of farfalle (bow-ties) so I used that instead of spaghetti. No matter. This dish is fresh and "bright" and tangy and light, perfect for a hot summer's night. Or any night, honestly. Give it a try.

Incidentally, my almost-five-year-old son, who initially claimed "But I don't like lemon" (right! this from the Lemonade King!) is now devouring his bowl of pasta.

Lemon Spaghetti

"One of the easiest pasta dishes you'll ever make, this is great as a light meal or as a side dish, especially for grilled fish." (in that case, you might try it with this Grilled Margarita Tilapia!)

4 main-course servings or 6 side-dish servings

2/3 cup olive oil
2/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice (from about 2 lemons)~I used ReaLemon
3/4 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
1 pound dried spaghetti
1/3 cup chopped fresh basil
1 tablespoon grated lemon zest (from about 2 lemons)~I didn't have this.

In a large bowl, whisk the oil, Parmesan cheese, lemon juice, 3/4 teaspoon of salt and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper to blend. Set the lemon sauce aside. (The sauce can be made up to 8 hours ahead. Cover and refrigerate. Bring to room temperature before using.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the spaghetti and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender but still firm to the bite. Drain, carefully reserving 1 cup of the cooking liquid. Add the spaghetti to the lemon sauce, and toss with the basil and lemon zest. Toss the pasta with enough reserved cooking liquid, 1/4 cup at a time, to moisten. **I think because I didn't have quite a pound of pasta, I didn't need any extra liquid at all.**

Season the pasta with more salt and pepper to taste. Transfer to bowls and serve.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Founder Mix

This recipe comes from Number One's family cookbook. It is attributed to one of his cousins. They call it "founder" mix because they have "foundered" on it several times, meaning, "to become ill from overeating."

When this is around, it is seriously all I can do to not eat it all, all of it, all day long. Yesterday, it was all I could do to walk past the Chex cereals so I wouldn't make a whole batch and eat it all by myself. Today, I sent my husband to the store with a list of cereals. And what do you know, with cereals he returned. Every time I walk by the founder mix, I eat a bite or two. Heaven.

You can store it in a large ziploc bag, making it handy for traveling/hiking/horseback riding too.

Founder Mix

In a large bowl, combine approximately 3 cups EACH of:

Rice Chex
Corn Chex
Golden Grahams

Of the following "Optional" ingredients, I always include slivered almonds, coconut, and chopped cashews. (at least a cup of each, or more) Mix in with your cereal.

slivered almonds (about 8 oz)
coconut (about 2 cups raw unsweetened, if you can find it. sweetened flakes if not)
cashews (about 1 cup chopped)
sunflower seeds

In a saucepan, heat the following:

1 cup Karo (corn syrup)
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 sticks butter (can be reduced to 1 stick, but why??)

Bring to boiling and boil for 2 minutes, stirring with a wooden spoon. Pour over cereal mixture and mix well.

The recipe doesn't say this, but I turn out my founder mix onto parchment paper-lined baking sheets to let it set up a bit. If you can wait that long. Then I store it in a ziploc bag. If you have any left to store. Go make some now. And be sure to send me a small sample, just so I can know you've mastered the recipe...

Oyster Cracker Snacks

My grandma used to make these all the time. Oyster crackers are those little crackers (above) usually served with clam chowder. I remember my grandpa eating them plain, in a bowl, with milk. I never knew how simple the snacks were to make until I got my grandma's recipe for a family cookbook my mom and I are putting together. These are incredibly easy and quick, and they keep well (in fact, they taste better with age) so you can make them several days ahead. They taste great, so they are popular at get-togethers. I love these little snacks.

Oyster Cracker Snacks

Makes a lot


2 bags oyster crackers
1 tablespoon dill weed
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 cup oil (I used olive)

Mix ingredients in large bowl, shake or stir well. Put in paper bag and shake to remove excess oil. Wipe out bowl, then put back in covered bowl to age.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Marinated Mushrooms

Yet another recipe from the Moosewood Cookbook, by Mollie Katzen. I used to make these a lot, even took them on a hiking/camping trip in a little plastic jar! You might as well double the recipe from the start. Very flavorful, you will wonder where these little gems have been all your life!

Marinated Mushrooms

Preparation time: 25 minutes

Yield: 4 to 6 antipasto servings

1 pound small mushrooms (1-inch diameter)
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 to 2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon thyme
1 medium clove garlic, minced
fresh black pepper
a handful of finely minced parsley

Clean the mushroom thoroughly, slicing off and discarding the stems. Place the mushroom caps in a saucepan with no added water, cover, and cook them over medium heat 10 to 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare the marinade by combining all the remaining ingredients in a medium-small bowl.

Drain the mushrooms. (for a great soup stock, reserve the liquid). Place the mushrooms in the marinade, stir gently, and let marinate, either refrigerated or at room temperature, for at least several hours. Stir occasionally during marination. Serve cold or at room temperature.

Roasted Green Beans with garlic and pine nuts

This is a recipe from Mollie Katzen's Moosewood Cookbook, and is listed under her "antipasto" heading. Since the beans can be served at any temperature, you can definitely make them ahead of time. They are delicious.

Roasted Green Beans with garlic and pine nuts

Preparation time: 30 to 40 minutes, including roasting

Yield: 6 antipasto servings

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound fresh whole green beans, trimmed
1 cup thinly sliced onion
10 to 12 medium garlic cloves, peeled
salt and pepper
1 to 2 tablespoons balsamic or red wine vinegar (I used 2 tablespoons balsamic)
1 cup lightly toasted pine nuts

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Brush a large baking tray with 2 tablespoons olive oil.

Spread the green beans, onions, and garlic cloves on the tray and sprinkle lightly with salt (I use Kosher) and pepper.

Bake for 20 minutes, intermittently stirring or shaking the tray. Taste a green bean to see if it's as tender as you like it. If not, put it back for another 5 or 10 minutes.

Remove from oven; transfer to a bowl. Drizzle with vinegar, and possibly grind in some additional black pepper. (I didn't). Serve at any temperature, topped with lightly toasted pine nuts.

Texas-Style Pork Ribs

I call these "Texas-style" because I learned how to make a version of these from my friend Karen, who is from Texas. I suppose a more accurate name would be "Karen's Pork Ribs." Call them what you will, these are quick and tasty.

Karen's Texas-Style Pork Ribs

1/2 stick butter
2 + pounds country pork ribs, boneless
1 bottle of your favorite BBQ sauce (regular size, roughly 18 ounces)

Melt the butter in a deep frying pan over medium-high heat. Add pork ribs and brown on all sides. Turn heat down to low, and cover pork ribs with 1/2 bottle of BBQ sauce, pouring most of the sauce directly on the meat. Simmer for about 10 minutes, then turn ribs and coat with the rest of the BBQ sauce. Simmer until meat is done, probably 10 minutes or less.

Transfer meat to a platter and spoon some of the sauce on top.

Sour Cream Coffee Cake

This is one of my mom's classic recipes. It is very delicious and very popular! She even used to make it for a college friend of mine, and when she heard he might be visiting, she made sure she had the ingredients on hand. When my friend didn't show, I encouraged her to make the coffee cake anyway since we were there on vacation and we love it too! The coffee cake is delicious and goes so quickly, with all 10 of us clamoring for breakfast I had to rush to take a picture. "Stop cutting!"

Sour Cream Coffee Cake

1/2 pound butter
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 cup sour cream
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup walnuts
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 heaping teaspoon cinnamon

Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs and blend well. Alternately add sour cream and vanilla with flour, baking powder and soda. Set aside.

Mix together walnuts, brown sugar and cinnamon. Set aside.

Grease and flour angel food or bundt cake pan. Spread 1/2 of batter in pan and sprinkle with 1/2 of nut mixture. Cover with remaining batter and sprinkle with remaining nut mixture.

Bake in 350 degree F oven for 45 minutes. Let cool briefly, then turn out onto serving dish.

Rosemary Cashew Chicken

We've been on vacation in Michigan, where my parents have rotary dial-up Internet, (I wish I were kidding) which is s l o w e r than slow. Now that we're home, you can look forward to more frequent recipes!

This is a dinner we had (my brother actually prepared it because I was busy!) while we were all there. It was simple to put together, and delicious. There is a bit of hands-on time at the end, but it is worth it! (I did make the end sauce, and Number One sliced the onions, so it was a team effort!)

Rosemary Cashew Chicken

Serves 4 to 6


1 broiler/fryer chicken (3 to 4 pounds), cut up and skin removed

1 medium onion, thinly sliced

1/3 cup orange juice concentrate

1 teaspoon dried rosemary, crushed

1 teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

3 tablespoons water

¼ to ½ cup chopped cashews

Hot cooked pasta


Place chicken in a slow cooker. Combine onion, orange juice concentrate, rosemary, salt and cayenne; pour over chicken. Cover and cook on low for 4-5 hours or until chicken juices run clear. Remove the chicken and keep warm.

In a saucepan, combine flour and water until smooth. Stir in cooking juices. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. Stir in cashews. Pour over chicken. Serve with pasta.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Chicken Cutlets Milanese

I had totally forgotten about this yummy recipe, until I went to Idaho this last weekend. I made this dish for my grandma and mom when we were up there last year. My mom doesn't get to eat chicken at her house, because my dad is WiErD and doesn't eat chicken! So, every excuse we get to make chicken, we do it! I made a different chicken dish at my grandma's this year, but when I got home, I looked through all my recipes to find this one so I could make it this week. I love the flavor of the Balsamic Vinaigrette with the's a great combination. If I remember correctly, I got this recipe from my mom's Weight Watcher cookbook! When I make this, I make up some brown rice and a veggie for the kids because they don't like the vinaigrette dressing! But they LoVe the chicken! Really simple, healthy, yummy dinner!

1/4 Cup dried Italian seasoned bread crumbs
2 Tbls grated Parmesan cheese
4 (3 ounce) thin sliced chicken breast cutlets
1 1/2 tsp olive oil
2 cups Arugula or Spinach
Large tomato, diced
1/2 Cup thinly sliced vidalia or sweet onion
3 Tbls light balsamic vinaigrette dressing
Ground pepper

Mix bread crumbs and cheese on wax paper, coat chicken. Heat oil in skillet over med heat. Add chicken and cook until browned (about 2 1/2 min per side) Combine Arugula, tomato and onion in med bowl. Add dressing and toss to coat. Place on plates, top w/chicken and pepper to taste.

Taste & Create Gets Grilling: Grilled Margarita Tilapia

Although we left on vacation in the middle of this event, I couldn't resist. We grill all the time. This is a seasonal version of Taste & Create, hosted by Nicole of For Love of Food. (Nicole, I will add the logo when we get home--my mom has rotary dial-up, which is virtually impossible)

I was paired with Becke of Columbus Foodie, and quickly became enamored with her recipe for Grilled Margarita Grouper. I honestly don't know what kind of fish "grouper" is, but I figured since we were traveling to Michigan (many, many lakes) and my husband likes to fish, I could improvise! Plus, you probably guessed I love margaritas.

We went fishing the other day, and I got more bites than my husband did, but my line wasn't strong enough for whatever kept biting. I caught a small blue gill, but that was it. We came home empty-handed. He went back out that night with my dad, nothing. Back out at 5:AM this morning, still nothing. So I went to the grocery store.

On the menu tonight is:

Grilled Margarita Tilapia!

2 pounds tilapia filets (I used about 2 1/4 pounds for the family)

1/3 cup tequila

1/2 cup triple sec

3/4 cup fresh lime juice

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 tablespoon minced garlic (I used 2 cloves)

2 teaspoons vegetable oil

Combine all ingredients except the fish, and set aside. Place fish in a single layer in a large baking pan (I used 9x13"). Pour marinade over fish, and marinate for 1/2 hour at room temperature, or 3 hours in the refrigerator.

Remove fish from marinade and pat dry. Brush fish on both sides with oil and grill (preferably in a fish basket) for 4-5 minutes each side, or until flesh is opaque and flakes easily. Season with salt and pepper if you wish.

This fish was perfectly grilled, tender and moist and flavorful. I only marinated the fish for 1/2 hour, I was nervous about marinating for more than an hour or two because with all the tequila and lime juice it could start to "cook." I was tempted to follow the directions from the original recipe (link through Becke's post) and boil the marinade for a topping, but after a day of canoeing, I wasn't up for it. Maybe next time, because this dish is wonderful! You should get some fish~however you can~and grill it!
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